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Hanging by a thread: unusual nocturnal resting behaviour in a jumping spider
Frontiers in Zoology  (IF3.172),  Pub Date : 2021-05-17, DOI: 10.1186/s12983-021-00410-3
Daniela C. Rößler, Massimo De Agrò, Elia Biundo, Paul S. Shamble

For diurnal animals that heavily rely on vision, a nocturnal resting strategy that offers protection when vision is compromised, is crucial. We found a population of a common European jumping spider (Evarcha arcuata) that rests at night by suspending themselves from a single silk thread attached overhead to the vegetation, a strategy categorically unlike typical retreat-based resting in this group. In a comprehensive study, we collected the first quantitative field and qualitative observation data of this surprising behaviour and provide a detailed description. We tested aspects of site fidelity and disturbance response in the field to assess potential functions of suspended resting. Spiders of both sexes and all developmental stages engage in this nocturnal resting strategy. Interestingly, individual spiders are equally able to build typical silk retreats and thus actively choose between different strategies inviting questions about what factors underlie this behavioural choice. Our preliminary data hint at a potential sensory switch from visual sensing during the day to silk-borne vibration sensing at night when vision is compromised. The described behaviour potentially is an effective anti-predator strategy either by acting as an early alarm system via vibration sensing or by bringing the animal out of reach for nocturnal predators. We propose tractable hypotheses to test an adaptive function of suspended resting. Further studies will shed light on the sensory challenges that animals face during resting phases and should target the mechanisms and strategies by which such challenges are overcome.